Safe and Responsible Passenger-Bus Safety. Bus safety lessons could include: About the bus: This includes a tour of the bus, meeting the driver, and generally getting familiar with the vehicle so it is not frightening for young children. Waiting for the bus: Children should learn the proper way to wait at a bus stop, including the dangers of horseplay and strangers. Distance from the curb and single file waiting lines should also be emphasised. Boarding the bus: Knowing how to navigate very steep, tall steps is crucial for students to board the bus safely. They should also be taught how to choose a seat and the importance of sharing seats when the bus is crowded. Riding the bus: While the bus is in motion, students should sit quietly and face forward, holding their books and bags on their laps. Turning around or bouncing on the seats is dangerous behaviour, and talking too loudly can distract the driver. Leaving the bus: When leaving the bus, students should learn to walk slowly and carefully and to navigate the steps safely. Students should also be taught to take all their possessions with them and help keep the bus clean so everyone can enjoy using it. Bus emergencies: Students should understand how to let the bus driver know about an emergency, such as illness, and they should also know how to behave in case there is a traffic emergency such as a crash or a vehicle breakdown. Practice using the emergency exits can help st students become familiar with them in case evacuation is necessary. Know where the 1 aid kit is, as well as a fire extinguisher. School bus bullying: A special lesson on how to recognize and prevent bullying is a key to an enjoyable bus ride. Young students in particular may be subject to bullying, and knowing how to react to a bully and when to tell an adult can help stop this aggressive behavior before it becomes out of control. Bullying on the Bus For bullies interested in picking on their peers, the school bus is an ideal location. Supervision is generally minimal – before boarding the bus, the hectic rush of activity makes small bullying tactics hard to notice, and while on the bus, the only adult may be the driver, who cannot react to every incident because he or she is operating the vehicle. Because the bus is a small, closed space, victims of bullying have no place to retreat to, and they often have no choice but to ride the bus, making them easy and regular targets. This makes students vulnerable to intimidation and physical abuse on the bus. Parents, teachers and other students need to be aware of these problems and how to prevent them for the safety of everyone on the bus. Dangers of Bus Bullying While there is no doubt that bullying is dangerous to the student being tormented – in addition to physical harm, constant bullying tactics can damage a child’s confidence, self-esteem and other personality traits – bullying is dangerous to everyone in the vehicle. Because of the close quarters, other students can easily be drawn into the action, either as additional victims or succumbing to the peer pressure to be a bully themselves. Severe bullying can distract the bus driver, increasing the risk of vehicular accidents that can severely injure students, other motorists and pedestrians. Bullying can also disrupt students’ education by making them fearful of going to school and forcing them to focus on the intimation rather than learning. Signs of School Bus Bullying Bus bullying signs include: Fear of going to school or of riding the bus. Habitually delaying or otherwise deliberately trying to miss the bus. Continually asking for rides to school or finding excuses to ride with friends instead of on the bus. Ripped clothes, missing possessions or signs of physical abuse that a teacher is unable to report happening in class or at school. How to React to Bullying Students can… Sit as close to the bus driver as possible and on the right-hand side of the bus so they are visible to the driver. Pair up with a friend and ride the bus together. Be polite to someone who tries to bully them rather than reacting with anger; fighting back should never be an option and will only make the situation worse. Tell adults when bullying happens, including parents, teachers and the bus driver. Stand up for other students who are being bullied to keep it from spreading. Parents can… Check the school’s health and safety policy which may include an anti bullying procedure, and report incidents. Be a good listener to encourage the child to tell adults if an incident occurs. Teach responsible bus riding behaviour. Be a good role model by avoiding road rage and other driving related intimidation tactics. Avoid blaming the child for being bullied. Avoid encouraging retaliation or fighting and focusing on positive bullying prevention methods instead. Investigate alternative transportation such as car pooling, biking, walking or a different bus route if possible. Parents Getting Involved Parents can support their local schools in a number of ways, such as: Define bullying and make sure everyone knows the definition: one person or more intending harm, humiliation and/or intimidation to others with words and/or actions. Assign seats. Develop reward incentives for appropriate behavior. Create immediate and consistent consequences for misbehavior; post guidelines on buses. Teach an anti-bullying campaign, such as Kia Kaha that may include school-wide activities, student contracts, and other events to show that it is unacceptable. Get parents involved; have a “meet the driver” session before the year gets started to discuss mutual expectations, Institute bus behaviour contracts for all students that clearly stating the consequences for bullying, which may include suspension of bus riding privileges. Set up parent supervision at the school bus pick up and drop off zones. Volunteer to ride the school bus to help increase supervision if required. Student leaders could give daily reports of good or bad behaviour. Support training, and keep communications open with drivers. Bring bus drivers into classrooms to allow students to relate to them in a different environment. Organise a bus committee comprised of students, staff, drivers, and parents.